ORLANDO< Florida – This week’s 2023 Zurich Classic was held at TPC Louisiana located just 15 miles southwest of New Orleans along the Mississippi River Delta. Often referred to by golfers as the season’s most unique tournament, this two-man format had teams playing two rounds of best ball and two rounds of alternate shot. This year’s Classic saw a field of 80 teams competing for a chance to etch their names on the coveted Zurich Classic Trophy. There were 400 FedEx Cup points, a two-year PGA Tour exemption, and a $8.3 million purse on the line with the winners earning $1,242,700 each.
The weather at TPC Louisiana was cool for the final round with prevailing easterly winds keeping temperatures down along with overcast skies. The day started out with 22 teams within six shots of the leaders. The heavily favored team and last year’s champions – Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele– started the day tied for 11th place at 20-under par. The team of Beau Hossler/Wyndham Clark were at the top of the leaderboard at 26-under par with Kieth Mitchell/Sungie Im one stroke behind at 25-under.
What had all the ingredients to be a Sunday afternoon horse race quickly settled into a who would blink first golf tournament. After four holes the top two teams were still separated by one stroke with the earlier groups slowly moving up the leaderboard. At the turn, the leaderboard had new leaders as Nick Taylor/Adam Hadwin posted a 28-under under par on the 13th hole. While both the Hossler/Clark and Mitchell/Im teams were at 27-under heading to Hole No. 10
The stage was set for what would be a battle of “Birdies in the Bayou” between a number of teams as they began to challenge the record book on every shot. It looked like Davis Riley put his signature on the final round when he hit his tee shot on the par 3 14th to two-inches from the cup. The Taylor/Hadwin team would post the first leader’s score in the clubhouse at 2-under par.
The team of Riley/Hardy birdied the par 4 16th for 2- under par then birdied the par 3 17th with a 40-foot putt from the front edge of the green to move to 3-under and a two stroke lead. Just about the time that Riley/Hardy team was closing the deal the team of Hossler/Clark had a bogey on the par 4 16th to fall to 2- under par, three shots behind with only two holes left to play.
The team of Davis Riley/Nick Hardy are the winners of the 2023 Zurich Classic of New Orleans with a final score of 30-under par which was two shots better than the second place team of Taylor/Hadwin. This is the first PGA Tour victory for either player. They both will pick up a check for $1,242.700. Nick Taylor/Adam Hadwin finished in 2nd place with a 28-under. They will both receive $507,400. Three teams tied for 3rd place.
CBS Sports reporter Amanda Renner asked Nick Hardy about how he felt going into todays round.
“I don’t know why I was really nervous I think like I pointed out to you earlier that it’s just I think golfers are kind of control freaks and I feel like an alternate shot you know you don’t have control but Davis has been so good this week that I knew I just needed to just play my game and be solid,” Nick Hardy told CBS Sports reporter Amanda Renner when asked how he felt going into the final round.
She asked Davis Riley about his putt on 17 from the front of the green and where it ranks in terms of what you have been able to do under pressure in your career?
“I mean that’s definitely up there between the ones on five and 14 and the one on 17 yeah those one I just tried to hit with good speed and honestly I just tried to leave Nick a decent putts,” explained a happy Riley, a first time PGA Tour winner. “Pretty speechless honestly but now I know how hard nick works and you know the work I put in as well you know for it all finally pay off and to do it with and share this money with one of my best friends is pretty cool.”
It appears from the field in this week’s non-designated event that either a majority of the top ranked golfers on the PGA Tour are uncomfortable playing in this week’s format or there just wasn’t enough prize money being offered for them to feel it was worth another long weekend. The 2023 PGA Tour contractual agreement requires the “best players” to participate in 16 of the 17 designated events which include the four Majors.